I bet we've got two kinds of folks diving into this post:
- The busy bees who can't spare hours for gaming and just want to hop into a quick game now and then.
- On the flip side, the thrill seekers – the ones dreaming of marathon-style races, like taking on a 24-hour Sim Racing challenge.
TLDR: both groups should be satisfied. You can play endurance races almost every day, or enjoy short sessions that will take several minutes. It’s your choice.
How long are the Sim Races?
There's no magic number here, folks. It all depends on the game, league, car category, and a bunch of other stuff. But, from my own time in the virtual driver's seat, races usually clock in at around 30 minutes.
In most sim racing games, you've got these popular race lengths to pick from:
- 15 minutes
- 20 minutes
- 30 minutes
- 45 minutes
- 1 hour
- 1,5 hour
- 2 hours
There are of course many more, and in most games, we can define them ourselves.
How long are the races in iRacing?
iRacicng is known for its realism and hardcore player base. Races tend to be relatively long, so if you've only got a precious 10 minutes, you might not be satisfied.
The quickies in iRacing last around 20 minutes – not too shabby. But the buffet of options is wide open. You'll find loads of races hitting that 30 to 45-minute sweet spot. Got an hour to spare? Perfect, you're in the race.
If you are on the other side, and you love long racing, you should love this game. It's the ultimate destination for endurance nuts.
Think online 24-hour races are crazy cool? Guess what, they've got plenty of them!
Are there endurance races in Sim Racing?
Alright, endurance junkies, this one's for you: Sim Racing is your playground.
There are plenty of tournaments and mods, letting you take on legendary events like the 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and even the 12 Hours of Bathurst.
Many Sim Racing games offer popular GT and LMP Cars known from real endurance racing, so it’s a really fun, and immersive experience.
The best sim racing games for Endurance Racing in my opinion are iRacing, rFactor 2, and Assetto Corsa Competizione.
How much time do you need for Sim Racing?
I come from the MMORPG genre. If someone told me I could only play for an hour a day, I'd probably prefer not to play at all. In games like that, you usually can't feel much progress and fun in just an hour.
However, in an intense hour of sim racing, you can actually get quite physically exhausted and satisfy yourself by completing, let's say, 15-minute qualifying sessions and a fairly lengthy 45-minute race. For me, this is great, as sim racing truly respects my time, and I feel fulfilled even if I only have half an hour to play. That's what I love about this genre. It's perfect for older and busier people like myself.
Does sim racing make any sense if you don't have much gaming time?
Well, it depends.
If you love racing, sure. However, in Sim Racing you usually have to dig a little bit in the settings, and wait for the race, so it’s good but definitely not the best type of game if you are always low on time. It may be frustrating that you’ve just joined, made two laps, and you have to turn off the game.
However, you can always find some compromises, especially if you are into single player, or you don't mind public lobbies.
Personally, I don't play sim racing as much as I'd want to. These days it's like 30 minutes daily. But I still have much fun - I just turn on the game, make a few preparation laps, and then I start 20 minutes race. Thanks to the single player mode, I don't have to wait for anything. I just race and build my skills. I'm racing online on the weekends when I have more time.
What to do if you can't play long races?
If you have very little time for Sim Racing, I can recommend three things to you:
- Playing single-player modes – that’s you who defines how long the race should be. Have time only for two laps? Race for two laps. Want to skip qualifying? It’s just one click. I have to admit I don’t like single-player games, but in sim racing, it’s still fun, especially with great AI like the ones from rFactor 2, Automobilista, or Assetto Corsa Competizione.
- Hot lapping – if I want some “adrenaline” but I’m low on time, I usually do some hot lapping. It’s very cool, and it helps you to make progress. I’d definitely recommend it for every session you have not enough time to race. One "hot lap" takes usually ~2 minutes (at least if you're not racing Nordschleife), and it can be super fulfilling because each of them may be your next personal best.
- Playing on public servers (for example, in Assetto Corsa) – these are types of servers you don’t need to wait to join as long as there is an empty slot. These servers are usually not as immersive as those from leagues or racing systems because people like to do some mess and many of them are very bad, but if you want to play just for fun, it’s also an option. Honestly, I like it to this day. I think that thanks to playing on such servers, I have quite a good ability to avoid accidents because they happen almost every time there.
- Playing multiplayer casually - who said you need to be at your absolute best to have fun in sim racing? As long as you know the track and are quite comfortable in the car, you shouldn't ruin other's race, even if you'll be slower than the rest of the pack. If I play against people below my skill level, as long as I know the track, I can be quite competitive without any practice. It's not as fun and efficient in terms of developing your skills as playing against drivers on your skill level or above it, but it definitely respects your time.
- Sticking to a few cars and tracks - pick a couple of cars that have a lot of online races and that you feel comfortable with, and master the most popular tracks or those being played in the current period. For instance, for the past week, I've been exclusively racing on the Hungaroring with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3. This way, I've developed my favorite setup, know the racing line, and when I launch the game, I'm immediately on pace since I drove the same track the previous day. I understand that some of you might find this repetitive, but in reality, it's one of the best and most effective forms of gameplay for people with limited time.
Being low on time is not a problem, especially if you have a dedicated rig, so you don’t have to connect the steering wheel every time. If you don't have dedicated rig and connecting all the stuff takes too much time, you can consider playing on a controller - that's what I currently do pretty much everyday. It's not as bad as you may think!
As you can see, there are some ways to enjoy sim racing even without having much time, so if you really like racing, give it a try!